Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Day

Today is celebrated as Valentine's Day in the US and other places, mostly kept alive by the card, florist, and candy businesses. It is also a fun theme for making something sweet.

My sewing group, Sew Incredibles, is having a gift exchange tonight with the theme of Valentine's Day. It was fun to make this very small quilt, also known as a mug rug.

And I still had time to make a Valentine for Mr. NowSewing:

He left me a lovely hand-written note this morning. And yet, last week, we both agreed to ignore Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Chateau Blanc

Today I finally had time to finish my first version of the Chateau Jacket from the Sewing Workshop. Ever since they started posting preview pictures on Instagram, I have been anxious to make one. And now I am certain I'll make it again. It is a simple wrap over-coat with elbow-length sleeves.

The line drawing does not make it look terribly interesting.

Fabric: This yummy fabric came from Gail K in Atlanta, a place where I find lots of interesting fabrics. It is 80% wool and 20% angora, quite spongie and does not ravel much at all. It was delightful to sew, both hand and machine stitching. The Chateau is designed for non-raveling fabrics with directions for lapped seams and raw edges. So while winter white is not the best color for me, I just could not resist.
happy on the inside, really
Cutting: Due to the thickness of the fabric, and the need to keep raw edges smooth, I cut it out single layer. So as to avoid serious mistakes, I carefully marked the right side of each piece with a pin. I discovered that the fabric was slightly damaged but it did not present a problem. Who knew winter white could fade? It was ever-so-slightly whiter at the fold line.


I changed some aspects of construction. The pattern calls for either patch pockets or slit pockets with a separate lining piece. I wanted to try out the slit pockets with this non-raveling fabric but decided against using the pocket lining. This would have created 3 layers of my fabric near my high hip fluff (ahem). I felt the pockets might flop around making it even less flattering. So I used the pocket pieces, but not the pocket facing pieces. This required that the top-stitched pockets show, but I kind-of like that.

Finished inside of jacket

Finished outside of jacket

I also adjusted the method for creating lapped seams. The pattern is designed for standard 5/8 inch seams so the first step is to cut off the seam allowance on one side of each seam. Then the cut piece is lapped over the uncut piece, aligning the raw edge at 5/8 inch. The trick is aligning the raw edge. The directions suggest the use of tape to hold the lap in place until it is top-stitched. I found that by machine-basting right at the seam line, I could lap it accurately. The basting was easy to remove after top-stitching.

Lastly I added some top-stitching. The pattern does not call for any finish to the raw edge of the front collar, or on the lower hem or the sleeve hem. I wanted a little insurance and stability, so I top-stitched 1/4 inch from each raw edge. I was especially concerned about the bias edges on the front collar. Plus I like the extra detail.

back facing from the right side, before should seams are sewn
The back neck edge is reinforced with a deep facing that is simply sewn on wrong-sides-together. I like the top-stitching on that too.

I really like the back neckline!

I have seen some notes about this being over-sized. It is. But there is no place where fit is relevant, in my opinion. I am 5'5" and happy with the proportions as designed. The fabric is very stable and so stands away from my body. This did not surprise me. I do want to try it again in a drapey fabric, perhaps using standard seam construction. I'm glad they included standard seam allowances. It might be interesting to lengthen the body or the sleeves in another version.

lots of room for extra layers!

I am quite enamored of this shape and the overall simplicity of it. And the winter white is lovely. My only concern is that it may spend more time at the dry cleaners than on my body. I must stay away from tomato sauce and red wine!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Light and Dark

Title: All the Light We Cannot See, 12 inches X 12 inches
Materials and techniques: Hanji paper dyed with procion dye, machine stitching, silk screening, fabric markers, packaging from a tea bag (dial on radio), Braille in French knots ("All the light we cannot see")

The paper tore as I unfolded it at the end of the dyeing process. Although the paper took the dye beautifully, it was still fragile. I like the way the light emerges from the dark navy blue scene. Marie-Laure was blind but could see much more than could be expected from a child. Werner was sighted but could not see what his participation in the German army meant. The beautifully written story culminates in their meeting and the light that emerged. Book was written by Anthony Doerr.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Classic Shirts

Pam Howard is about to teach a local class on The Classic Tailored Shirt. Unfortunately it is sold out but I think you can still register for her class on Craftsy. It is a wonderful class, no matter how or where you take it. I've been lucky enough to do both.

Pam started my fascination with classic men's shirting details in feminine tops. Although I have to miss her local class, I decided to participate in spirit! I bought these 3 pieces at Gail K.

Brown: cotton sateen
Cream: Pima cotton
Gray: cotton shirting
Using an old favorite pattern, I started with the gray cotton. It was so easy and fun to sew. The Hibiscus pattern is an old favorite because it's a little different and it's a little puzzle. I do enjoy a pattern puzzle.

It takes a bit of time to cut it out because so many of the pattern pieces are cut singly. Here are the only ones I could cut on doubled fabric:

The sleeve has some interest with the inset at the hem. That oddly shaped piece fits into the corner cut out. The pattern includes a collar and collar stand, signatures of classic shirting. But I decided to make the collar stand wider, and omitted the collar. That's a look that I find comfortable and flattering.

There are definitely some tricky parts and so I was glad to have my first version of it handy:

I did cut out the gray one backwards so it mirrors my first one. Here is the most tricky part, IMO:

Before it is hemmed and top-stitched, it looks like this:


after (on the inside)
I found it helpful to hem the bottom before top-stitching the overlay. Speaking of the overlay, here is how it looks before the top-stitching. It creates a slight peplum all around the bottom:

after. (I love the little pocket.)
All in all this was a fun make. I've intended to get back to it ever since I finished the first one. This one is so plain that, of course, I added sashiko. 

The buttons also came from Gail K. They have such great selection.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

That Hoodie

For Christmas I made my granddaughter a new coat. She had been over to my house wearing a coat I made several years ago for her, only the sleeves are now barely 3/4 sleeves and it is rapidly becoming a shrug.

The pattern is from this issue of Octobre. In fact, it is on one of the two covers:

As you may know, Octobre is a European (Finnish?) subscription magazine that includes the patterns in each issue. I have loved having some of these for making clothes for the grandchildren. It requires tracing the pattern from a page like this and then adding seam allowances:

Always a little daunting!
The instructions are brief but fine as it is a pretty straight-forward make. The hoodie attaches with an inset corner but otherwise it is a very easy pattern to put together.

My corner on the inset was a little wonky so I covered it with a label.
The fabric is a cotton-linen blend I purchased at Sewing Workshop this past summer. Because it is a jacket, I quilted it, using cotton flannel as the batting and a rayon lining as the back side. Then I assembled it as a single layer.

I used a separating zipper that I've worried is a little stiff. It was a bit fussy to install but not terrible. I inserted elastic in the sleeve hems and a draw string in the hoodie, as well as the coat hem. I used a cotton batik (light blue graphic batik) to finish edges on the inside. It was really quite fun to make.

And here is where the story takes a sad turn. It is not her style. And I get that. I really do. I like to select my clothing too. So, lesson learned. I need to engage her in the selection of pattern and fabric, and even the sewing next time.

Maybe she should just keep it a while. By the time it fits her, she might like it. Or not.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Fiber-reactive Dyes

Recently I purchased The Art of Cloth Dyeing from Craftsy. It is taught by Jane Dunnewold and is a blast! I must confess that I became impatient watching the video and missed a step, I think. The key to dyeing the Dunnewold way is heat and time, as she says. I think I short-circuited the heat.

cotton sateen - cobalt blue
It is a very low stress way to dye with chemical dyes. And it is not messy at all. I did it in the laundry room and did not dye anything accidentally, as far as I know. I used my tea kettle to make sure the water was hot enough, but otherwise did it all in my utility sink. The rinsing process was very easy - I used the utility sink for the cold wash, then my washing machine for the hot rinse. No renegade dye anywhere!

Generally I prefer natural dyes. However I purchased some of these fiber-reactive dyes a few years ago and decided I should use what I have. Of course, I'm addicted now and so will probably be purchasing more.

I used the cobalt blue for most of these. I added a pinch of the Kelly green towards the end. I can see the difference.

Homespun cotton, started out cream colored (see tiny original), used cobalt blue.

Hanji paper takes the cobalt blue beautifully. It is fragile during the rinse step and I tore the dark one quite a lot. The *plaid* one was folded tightly and wrapped with a rubber band. The paper started out bright white.

Old linen shirt from the thrift store. Here I added a pinch of the kelly green,after I had been using dye stuff containing only cobalt blue. The change was small and patchy. It was not completely submerged in the dye, as it was an afterthought.
I used it for clean-up first.

You can see the effect of the pinch of Kelley green added after I started using the dye.

You can see the old dyeing I did - probably tea, but maybe rust.

Silk noil, started life a natural color, seen below in the small piece of the original.

In sum, I am most enamored of the Hanji paper.  The color is so rich! It may migrate onto my hands when I stitch it, but maybe not.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Simple Zen Vest

Yet another piece from my current favorite pattern, the Now and Zen from the Sewing Workshop:

Fabric: a remnant I purchased at Gail K, 1 3/8 yd (60 w) for $17. It is a wonderful medium weight wool - soft to the touch, easy to sew, even nice next to my neck, and a beautiful rich navy blue. It's so dark that it does not photograph well.

Changes I made:

  • omitted sleeves and used silk dupioni to bind the raw edges.
  • added patch pockets on lower fronts.
  • stitched to back pleat together for about an inch at the waist line.
  • reshaped the front facing so that it does not fold twice; rather it folds once, creating a wider front facing.

This was a fairly easy make as it is unlined. I did hand-finish the raw edges on all the seams but otherwise it came together quickly. 

Things I like a lot:
  • the back pleat
  • the collar that can be worn folded back or up to keep my neck warm
  • the overall simplicity of it
  • the color and weight of the fine wool
Now I'm trying to decide if it needs buttons. I don't think I'd really button it but maybe that would give it a little more pizzazz. It's plain but I like that it will go with so many things I wear.

This is a fun collar. It is a tube with the ends (at the front) open. I suppose you could slip a scarf through it. The raw edges of the collar are easily tucked away with the top-stitching. You can just barely see the top-stitching above.

I thought about using the collar from the Now shirt. It is a double collar where the inside collar is more narrow than the outside collar. But it does lead to 4 layers of collar - too much for this wool. Overall, I call this a success!

Hope your sewing is going smoothly in January.